Sunday, December 11, 2011

This is the abusive bully whom the ALP once wanted as Prime Minister of Australia

MARK Latham has been reported to the Department of Education for intimidating the mother of former star cricketers Steve and Mark Waugh over a children's swimming class.
The 50-year-old former Labor leader angrily claimed his two children had learned nothing after less than half an hour in the pool at the free government swim program that Bev Waugh was running.

Witnesses told The Sunday Telegraph that Mrs Waugh, 65, was shocked when Mr Latham approached her from behind as she was teaching at the pool edge.

"What actually are you teaching?" he demanded. "I have been watching the lesson and I have been listening to the parents and I am speaking on behalf of other parents and what I am hearing parents say. "As far as I can see, they are not learning anything."

The outburst occurred on Tuesday at Camden pool, on the second day of a 10-day learn-to-swim program. The children were in the pool for the first time.

Mrs Waugh attempted to explain that the program aimed to teach a broad range of skills and emphasised water safety.

But Mr Latham, towering over her slight frame, interrupted her to threaten to withdraw the children.

"I am just letting you know that a lot of parents are going to be pulling their children out of the scheme," he said, then turned his back and stomped away.

Mrs Waugh, a qualified teacher who has been working for the Department of Education's School Swim Scheme since the 1970s, was visibly shaken. Mrs Waugh's only comment to The Sunday Telegraph was: "I wish I had said to him: Would you speak to your mother the way you have spoken to me?"

Her supervisor has subsequently reported to the department that Mr Latham was "rude" and "intimidating" and was "flexing his muscle".

A Department of Education spokeswoman issued a statement to The Sunday Telegraph: "We have been made aware of the situation and we are now making enquires." She added it was "not appropriate" for a parent to approach a teacher and make claims or threats.

Mr Latham came with his children to their lesson the day after the incident but spent most of that lesson reading the paper by the babies' pool. He was one of the parents from Mount Hunter primary school who volunteered to drive the children to the lessons.

When The Sunday Telegraph approached him on Friday outside the pool he said the matter was private. "I just find it absolutely wacky that you would regard this as a matter of public interest and concern and spend your day here in Camden on a matter that has absolutely nothing to do with you," he said.

Mr Latham had a tilt at being prime minister, but suffered a wounding defeat to John Howard in 2004. He was Labor leader from December 2003 to January 2005, when he fell out with his party and contracted an illness.

The Education Department has offered the free Swim Scheme since 1954.


Doctors slam natural therapy 'quackery' in call to universities

AUSTRALIA'S top doctors want university courses in acupuncture, chiropractic and naturopathy scrapped, claiming they are a misuse of public money and encourage quackery.

Thirty-four of Australia's top doctors, medical researchers and scientists have signed a petition challenging universities that "give undeserved credibility to 'alternative' therapies". Signatories include Australian Medical Association president Dr Steve Hambleton and University of NSW Medicine Professor John Dwyer, who is also the founder of the Australian Health Care Reform Alliance.

Doctors penned an open letter after Central Queensland University announced it would offer a new chiropractic course next year. They argue it is necessary to protect consumers from the dangers of scientifically unproven practices.

"We have shared with each other our concern about the increasing numbers of universities that are allowing non-evidence based 'pseudo' disciplines to be offered to their students," they wrote.

"It is difficult to counter the massive amount of misleading, often fraudulent, information provided to consumers ... the task becomes harder when tertiary institutes give to unacceptable practices an undeserved imprimatur by including them among the courses they offer for study."

Professor Alastair MacLennan from the University of Adelaide said the group made its concerns public to rally support. "We condemn the 'teaching' of unproven beliefs such as homeopathy, naturopathy and iridology in public institutions," Professor MacLennan said, describing the practices as shonky.

Professor Marcello Costa of Flinders University said it was a misuse of public dollars. "It is disturbing to see a centre of learning, of supposed excellence, teaching and perpetuating health practices based on beliefs in principles that are totally unscientific," he said.

"It encourages the spread of quackery within the health system, misuses the public's health dollars, encourages unnecessary 'treatments' and may delay effective treatment when true disease is present."

The letter comes as Sydney University published a report showing acupuncture failed to assist disability or improve quality of life in patients suffering whiplash. The study, published this week in Spine, found acupuncture slightly improved pain scores but had no clinical importance.


Chasing overpayments might cost Queensland Health more than it will recover

They had a stab at this a few months ago but so many people challenged their assaessments that the process seems to have been put on hold

CRITICS fear Queensland Health will spend more money chasing down $75 million in overpaid wages than it could ever hope to recover.

The Courier-Mail yesterday revealed the beleaguered department would start clawing back the overpayments.

But the Australian Medical Association warned Queensland Health not to "throw good money after bad", as unions cried foul over the department's decision to flag the impending recovery two weeks before Christmas.

The department was thrown further into crisis yesterday after it was revealed executive Joel Morehu-Barlow had stolen $16 million from government coffers.

Over two-thirds of state health workers have now been overpaid by the faulty payroll system, according to new figures released yesterday, with $2.6 million mistakenly doled out in November alone.

QH plans to push ahead with a staged recovery program from January.

OPS Global debt recovery consultant Michael Todd predicted "big problems", with many staff arguing pay slips provided as evidence were unreliable or incorrect, and he expected at least 10 per cent of the almost 54,000 overpaid workers would refuse to pay.

"Unless the records are really clean it might be tricky to prove. The burden of proof is on the department," he said.

Litigation lawyer Graham Knight believed some cases could end up in court but said legal fees would quickly swallow the benefit of pursuing anything under $5000.

"They might say no matter what it costs us, we're going to be even-handed and take recovery action against everyone, even if we do it at a loss," he said.

While Queensland Health first will target 206 employees with the highest overpayments, collectively totalling $5.3 million, AMA Queensland president Richard Kidd urged common sense for bills of $1000 or less.

The department wiped all overpayments of $200 and less in May, but Minister Geoff Wilson repeatedly has stated he would not revisit the policy.


Christmas rush of boats expected

EIGHT boatloads of asylum seekers have sailed into Australian waters in as many days, as Immigration Department Secretary Andrew Metcalfe warned of a possible influx unless border protection laws were changed.

Mr Metcalfe said up to 3600 asylum seekers could arrive within six months and the flow of boats would not be stopped in the foreseeable future.

"There's no indication that I see that would show that the current high rate of arrivals is going to significantly decrease or increase," Mr Metcalfe said. "We seem to be back at a fairly steady state again."

The warning came days after the largest boatload of asylum seekers since Julia Gillard took over as Prime Minister arrived, with almost 170 people crammed on board.

Yesterday also marked the eighth arrival in eight days, when the Navy intercepted a boat with 49 asylum seekers.

Mr Metcalfe was quizzed by shadow immigration minister Scott Morrison and admitted it was "possible" 3600 asylum seekers could arrive within six months.

He previously said the failure of the Government's Malaysia solution could see 600 asylum seekers a month, but the rejection of the scheme to process asylum seekers in Malaysia had "effectively unwound" legislation from the Howard era.

"In the absence of any effective legislation we could expect to see numbers return to where they were last year and that's been proven to be correct," he said.

There are now more than 5500 people in either detention centres or in community detention. There are 1300 asylum seekers on Christmas Island and a quarter of detainees are housed in the community.

Assistant Secretary Greg Kelly said the department had a two-week target to get detainees off Christmas Island and into mainland centres.

"Obviously it depends on the weather conditions, the availability of charter flights and on ensuring detainees are safe to travel," he said.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said Australia's border protection system was in crisis. "The Prime Minister has effectively given up," he said. "She talks about offshore processing but she practises onshore release. The Government's policy is Bob Brown's policy: let people come, put out the welcome mat to the people-smugglers."


1 comment:

Paul said...

I've said before. Stopping the boats will only happen when Australia takes a decision to refuse them landing in Australian waters, and is prepared to back that with force. They know we'd never go to that extreme, and so they will just keep coming. Emotional blackmail.